Imagine you’re the pizza guy. You’re the Santa Claus of lunch and dinner. You make your way in this life by tossing and saucing the world’s favorite nom-noms. Everybody loves you. Yet, on an unseasonably warm night in January, a bizarre delivery order comes through. The call emanates from a gritty DIY home studio just beyond the shadows of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railyard on Cleburne’s hustle-is-as-hustle-does East Side. Three blunts and a dab rig have floated around the room for more than an hour. Fort Worth hip-hop party god Roddie Flacco is ordering food units for the squad.
“Cheese!” Roddie says into the phone. “Extra cheese. Like, just, ya know, layer it out, throw some sauce on it, know what I’m sayin’? Put your whole elbow in it. Ya feel me?”
Flacco panders to his audience by giving a wink and a nod. A faint “Uhhh, what?” from the flummoxed restaurant worker hangs in the air along with poorly stifled laughter.
This is the sweat-inducing pressure that the Fort Worth-born, Cleburne- raised Rod Anderson is looking to apply on The Funk’s ever-changing rap scene. Anderson plans to release his second studio album, High 35, on Friday. He’s been making music since 2011 but professes those tracks aren’t representative of the artist he is today. In fact, the 26-year-old promises his early works can now be found only within the particles of internet space dust.
Anderson’s first earnest attempt at rap credibility came in the form of last January’s Soul Sounds, a 12-track amalgam of tunes the rapper created and mastered on his own. Anderson concedes the mood and direction of Soul Sounds feels just as scattered as his pizza order.
“It was cool, and it was emotional and stuff, but it was just a tease,” the MC said of his first release. “It wasn’t even the best I could give you. It was just what I had right there just to let you know where I’m headed.”
The man guiding Anderson around the landmines commonly associated with the business side of hip-hop is his old friend and manager Black. As we sat around the studio and talked, the mononymic svengali was (rather poetically) wearing all black from head to toe – save for the tan Gucci socks poking out of his black flip-flops. He mashed his finger into his desk repeatedly while demonstratively pointing out the figurative checkpoints that represented Flacco’s path from Soul Sounds to High 35.
“Roddie Flacco is giving you a feeling,” Black said in his thick St. Maarten accent. “You can tell the space he was in when he was recording Soul Sounds, and you can tell the space he was in when he recorded High 35. I feel like he was in a more stable state of mind. When he was doing High 35, he was more focused.”
High 35’s opener, “Payola,” plays on the industry cliché of paying a radio station for spins. Anderson’s in-song persona “Flaccito” explains to other rappers that not only has he paid his dues, but his MC peers will now have to pay Roddie for what he brings to the table. Garnished with a wispy flute that sounds plucked straight from The Legend of Zelda, the song’s lyrical earworm, “racks on the way can’t sleep,” paints a picture of the artist’s diligent work during the arduous album-making process.
High 35 reaches its apex– thanks to his rap partner in arson, Nino SoSupremey – during “Swerve in a Vic,” a fast-paced, window-breaking slapper that allows the listener to ride shotgun with Fort Worth’s most dangerous rap tag team.
Drank-fueled gluttons will be satiated when the chopped and screwed version of High 35 becomes available on January 30. The aforementioned “Swerve in a Vic” and “Up All Night” are drenched in promethazine nostalgia. The songs should come with a “do not operate heavy machinery” warning.
The party doesn’t stop for “RodHimself.” In keeping with his larger-than-local aura, Anderson has foregone a run-of the-mill album release and opted for a more apt turn-up at a strip club on Wednesday. On February 1, Flacco will perform at the newly rechristened TCU-area hotspot The Moon.
Much like the pizza guy, Rod Anderson will put his whole elbow in the Fort Worth rap sauce.
Jason Banton is a writer for Panther City Propaganda, a local underground hip-hop blog and social media outlet.
Roddie Flacco album release party
10pm on Sat at Bottoms Up Sports Cabaret, 8701 S Fwy, FW. $10. 682.708.5959